25 July 2012, 16:37

Will the Arctic Ocean become Russian?

Will the Arctic Ocean become Russian?
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Director of the Institute of Expert Evaluations, Professor of Moscow University Nikolay Pavluk proposes to rename the Arctic Ocean into the Russian Ocean.

There are several important reasons why the Arctic Ocean should be renamed in this way. The first one has a geographical nature, Professor Pavluk explained to The Voice of Russia.

“The longest part of the northern Russian border is along the Arctic Ocean. Russia owns most islands in that ocean. Actually, all of them, except one small island which Russia shares with Norway.”

The area of the Arctic Ocean is the smallest compared with other Earth’s oceans. As for the number of its islands, which mostly have a continental origin, it is second after the Pacific Ocean, the expert says.

“If we also remember that the discoverers of Arctic waterways and islands, the pioneers of the Northern Sea Route were Russian travellers, scientists and sea-farers, it leaves no doubt that the ocean should be named after those who made their first steps here.”

The total area of Russia’s Arctic domains is the largest in the region, it is almost 6mln square metres. Canada has the second longest border along the Arctic Ocean but the area of Canada’s Arctic domains is one-fourth of the Russian ones, Nikolay Pavluk stresses. The global historical tradition is to name seas and oceans after the countries that have the strongest influence on that particular water area, so it is only logical to rename the Arctic Ocean, the scientist believes.

“Many names of seas and oceans are identified with countries, such as the Indian Ocean or the Sea of Japan. Moreover, the Arctic Ocean has already been renamed many times.”

It used to be called the Hyperborean Ocean and the Scythian Ocean, the Ice Sea and even the Tatar Ocean, Nikolay Pavluk remembers. History shows that many geographical names were changed depending on various factors. For example, the name of the Indian Ocean finally settled only in the 16th century. Ancient Greeks called the western part of that water space the Erythraean Sea. Later on, this name remained with the closest sea and the ocean was named after India.

The proposal to rename the Arctic Ocean triggered a dramatic response from experts. Director of Russian and Asian programmes at the Institute of World Security in Washington Nikolay Zlobin believes that this could create problems for air flights and publishing international maps.

Nikolay Pavluk pays great attention to all expert opinions of his idea. He has a short answer to the presumption that this could aggravate the international situation because other countries could accuse Russia of trying to capture the ocean bed which belongs to all countries. The professor says that names and borders are different notions. Nikolay Pavluk is interested in an overall discussion of his initiative because he believes that any initiative can finally take shape only after it has been publicly evaluated.

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